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Culture War Roundup for the week of April 29, 2024

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I recently heard of yaslighting, which is where instead of convincing someone their true beliefs are delusional, you affirm their delusional beliefs and convince them they're true.

Seems to apply to a lot of things (especially transgenderism) but what I have in mind is college degree choice. Plenty of female-oriented degrees such as psychology, behavioral science, speech pathology, etc. require a Masters in order to really start working in the field. Seemingly, most of the people who study those majors just aren't aware of this.

I'm unsure whether these women just haven't googled the most basic facts of the career they'll spend their next 4-6 years pursuing, or whether they're semi-deliberately deluding themselves. My guess is the latter. If you're going to college to get married, you need to look like you have your own ambitions. Pursuing a highly-educated mate just isn't a respectable goal for women anymore.

My mother is one of these women. The way she describes it, she finished her Psychology bachelors and only then realized it would take another couple years to make a career out of it. She's extremely smart, conscientious, and logical. I can't imagine her as someone who would just forget to look into these things. During that time she married a man who would go on to become very successful, and I think that (marrying a good man, that is, not necessarily a rich one) must have been the ultimate goal all along, whatever she told herself in the process.

I'm starting to see a similar phenomenon among my siblings. My brothers have laid out step-by-step plans for college and their eventual careers. My sister just wants to study Psychology because it's interesting. None of them would breathe a word about the different expectations between the genders--the topic is somewhat taboo--but they nevertheless have Gotten the Message and are all pursuing seemingly effective strategies optimized for their gender.

My wife and I have broached the subject of Psychology careers a couple of times with my sister, and she seems actively disinterested in thinking it through. I expect she, like my mother, will get married sometime during or just after her Bachelor's degree, and claim she was unaware she needed a Master's to turn the major into a career.

This is all well and good. I find myself continually amazed at how good normies are at unconsciously separating reality from social reality and smoothly living by them both without acknowledging the contradictions. The problem arises when someone doesn't get the message and thinks the social reality is the reality, that men can "study what you enjoy" for 4 years in college with no lasting impact to career prospects or marriagability, or that women can do the same without searching for husbands and things will work out for them.

My wife is a teacher. Most of her coworkers fall into these categories. Some are men who pursued useless degrees and now work as aides. Others (the school's speech pathologists, behavioral interventionists, psychologists, etc.) are women who didn't end up getting married during their Bachelor's, and now are working very slowly towards Master's degrees while working.

American culture gets a lot of things wrong, but imo nothing so badly as gender roles. We encourage women to overeducate, in the process aging themselves out of the possibility of having children, and depriving the next generation of those who could have been their smartest and most capable mothers. It is seen as empowering and feminist to socially pressure women into denying one of the most natural human impulses, that of having and raising children, so that they can get more educated and make more money.

Telling men to pursue fun degrees (creative writing, film, political science, etc.) rather than lucrative ones is like telling them to wear makeup and wait to be asked out by women. It's a fundamental denial of reality. Those who follow such advice will generally have drastically reduced romantic success. Their prospects will be fewer, worse, and less happy to marry them than they would have been otherwise.

Telling women to not look for husbands in college, and focus on education, is similar, though its results manifest in different ways. Such women will (as they get more educated) grow increasingly unable to find comparably "impressive" partners. Many will remain single, sleeping around but never committing, while a few will "settle" many years down the road. Neither situation is great for raising a family.

Sometimes the people in the middle are hardest hurt--those who haven't bought into the modern secular ideology or the trad religious one. Women who don't go all-in on their careers, but also don't actively seek out husbands in college, and so end up in dead-end jobs with whatever mediocre husband they end up with.

American tfr fell to 1.62 in 2023, its lowest rate ever, and is even lower among our most intelligent and conscientious. Financial incentives meant to correct this in places like Finland and Turkey have accomplished very little overall. The problem is not financial, it is cultural and legal. People need to think of advice like "study your hobby and things will work out" as a malicious lie meant to signal a luxury belief. Motherhood needs to be far more prestigious than any career. Couples need to be allowed to mutually agree to contracts incentivizing them to stick together.

The truth is and always has been the truth, but more people need to be made more consciously aware of it. If women want large families, they need to start before finishing their Master's. I burned a lot of credibility with my immediate family getting married as young as I did, and sacrificing my social life and physical health to be financially ready for children quickly. This was the right decision, but it pains me to say I probably won't be able to convince them to do the same until after the crucial window has passed. I hope to convince you, though, or if you are already convinced, to offer you some ammunition convincing those you care about.

For the vast majority of people, the quality and quantity of their children will have far more of an effect on the future than anything else they could do. If you like being alive, and/or find it meaningful, it is likely your kids will too, and bringing them into the world to experience the joy of existence is an enormous gift you have the power to offer them. Less important, but still significant, 71% of Americans are happy with their decision to have children, or wish they had more, while only 10% wish they had less.

Whether for selfish or selfless reasons, having children early is the right call for most people, but our culture has conducted an enormous yaslighting campaign to prevent this from happening until it's too late.

There is a critical flaw with your advice.

The definition of luxury belief is beliefs you can afford to have. "Study your hobby and things will work out" is a luxury belief for exactly this reason, because you can get away with studying your hobby and things will work out for you in the end (if you have additional options to fall back on or money is not a concern at all). Why would you ever broadcast that you can't afford to have these luxury beliefs? What are you, poor?

The problem isn't that these beliefs are wrong, it's that America is the land of temporarily embarrassed millionaires. You see this all the time because it is a culture obsessed with broadcasting their success. Some woman wrote a book in coffee stores and made a billion dollars, why can't you do that? She proved it's possible! What are you, stupid? Kids see streamers their age making six figures a year. Why would you study hard when you can stick your face in front of a camera and make money for acting like a moron and playing video games! What are you, stupid?

What they don't see are all the failures. Failures are invisible. For every JK Rowling there's millions of writers, even published ones, who can't pay a power bill with book royalties. For every Mr Beast there's a thousand people humiliating themselves on Twitch for pennies in the name of Content.

If you're going to college to get married, you need to look like you have your own ambitions. Pursuing a highly-educated mate just isn't a respectable goal for women anymore.

You can, in fact, combine the two- study education and 'need help' with your math homework in the engineering commons, you'll get that MRS degree in no time. It was what my grandfather recommended my sister to do, although she met a law student with a trust fund before she could execute that plan.

Of course, that's what I'm saying. You pretend to be getting an education while dating intelligent, conscientious classmates.

It's not that the education side of the strategy is fake necessarily, but even if you don't care about it at all, pursuing it as your explicit goal is probably the most effective way to find a husband.

Telling men to pursue fun degrees (creative writing, film, political science, etc.) rather than lucrative ones is like telling them to wear makeup and wait to be asked out by women. It's a fundamental denial of reality. Those who follow such advice will generally have drastically reduced romantic success. Their prospects will be fewer, worse, and less happy to marry them than they would have been otherwise.

My guess is that straight men who do creative writing and screenwriting get laid much more than straight men who do software engineering or physics. Even political science, as @Bartender_Venator says below.

They're around (vastly) more women, will have largely female social circles in many cases, meet more women in the course of their professions and have jobs that women would (in many cases) like to speak to them about. That easily cancels out the engineer's larger paycheck.

If you want to get laid as a man, studying English literature and spending your 20s and early 30s being a bum in a band and working part-time bartending gigs in Brooklyn is far superior as a sexual strategy than literally any white collar profession will be. That isn't a recommendation.

The main problem with creative writing and screenwriting is how extremely difficult it is to get jobs in those fields. The average creative writing major should expect to get a mostly-unrelated job or need more education. The average screenwriting major should expect to essentially not get into the film industry at all.

And I'm talking about getting married and having kids, not finding sexual partners.

(Though, if you want to get laid as a man, getting married is statistically by far your best bet).

The average creative writing major should expect to get a mostly-unrelated job or need more education. The average screenwriting major should expect to essentially not get into the film industry at all.

But most people in almost every field except STEM, don't end up working in their degree field anyway right? A lot of white collar jobs are gated behind a degree, but it doesn't really matter what degree you have, as getting the degree is the signal. There simply are not many actual psych jobs or politics jobs, so most people getting any of these are going to end up an office manager or something similar. Might as well study something you are interested in at university level unless you have a very specific plan, and even in a lot of those instances there are simply not going to be enough jobs in that field and you will end up doing something else. And my experience (and I work in academia) is that applies to most of both men and women.

Once you realize the majority of people are going to end up working in a field unrelated to their major then creative writing isn't much worse off. The truth is the vast majority of graduates are going to end up in some kind of mundane office dronish position, unrelated to whether they want to become a writer or an astronaut or a journalist.

This might be true, but for most non-humanity majors, they have a degree that signals a marketable skill and therefore they can often get a job that pays decently enough without the need to go and take a second degree to avoid working at Starbucks or something. Humanities don’t teach you skills businesses need or want. And on the art end, it’s almost anti-career skills. Nobody will ever ask you to write a screenplay or make an oil painting in an office. At least the psych degree requires researching and producing reports, often presenting findings to the public or peers.

The other negative of an artist is that quite often they don’t understand just how unlikely success is in their field and thus some will spend a decade or more “trying to make it” and keeping a low wage job that doesn’t make demands on their “art”. I know a guy who was still spending hundreds every month booking himself studio time to make cds of his music into his thirties. He’d spend time on the weekends playing gigs for free as well. Everyone knew he was wasting his life on this — he’d never actually have a career even as a local artist. But at the same time, he wasn’t moving forward in an actual career until well into his thirties.

Most of the office people in my local government and private business days had humanities degrees, I think you underestimate how little most bog standard employers care about whether the degree is humanities or not. A degree is a degree (with the exception of STEM). As long as you can signal enough that you can sit down, follow instructions for 3 or four years that is good enough.

Now that is seperate from people who think they will succeed in industries which are famously hard to break into.

most non-humanity majors, they have a degree that signals a marketable skill and therefore they can often get a job that pays decently enough without the need to go and take a second degree to avoid working at Starbucks or something.

Depends on the humanities degree, doesn’t it? Like history majors are doing fine on the job market, and that’s a humanity.

Intellectually rigorous humanities study teaches skills which are valuable in the workplace (rapid assimilation of unstructured information, critical evaluation of qualitative arguments, persuasive writing). I learned to write in history class, not by writing lab reports as part of my physics degree, and definitely not from preparing for the compulsory essay questions in the capstone physics paper.

The problem is that humanities courses are the easiest to grade-inflate without it being obvious what you have done, so most students with high GPAs in humanities majors never actually engaged in intellectually rigorous humanities study. Employers will only hire humanities graduates if they are sufficiently clued in to know which are the intellectually rigorous schools and programmes. Harvard philosophy majors are as hireable for a MBB or Wall Street analyst role as the STEMlords.

Employers will only hire humanities graduates if they are sufficiently clued in to know which are the intellectually rigorous schools and programmes.

Again this may be true for very high end employers but for most all they look for is a degree and they don't care how rigorous that degree was. I did recruitment for both private and government organizations, and while the civil service did care, no-one else did, including blue chip communications companies and local government. And the reason for that is they are not getting to pick from Oxford or Cambridge or Harvard grads or wherever in the first place. Your middle of the road office manager type can easily get a job with a non-intellectually rigorous humanities degree. Sure they might not get into Wall Street or quant jobs, but they were never going to. Your point only applies for the very top slice of jobs, for all the others, just need to have a degree to tick a box on the form, you will be fine with a degree in basket weaving or creative writing or musicology.

Of course, but even if your failed-out creative writing major becomes an English teacher making a modest salary, he's still surrounded by women, many of them young and attractive. Even if they'd rather a doctor, an average-to-good looking male teacher won't have trouble dating or getting married. Male nurses are a himbo profession and always seem to do well with women.

I think creative writing majors becoming teachers is one of the good endings. More often I see them continue to pursue the dream of becoming an author long after it makes sense, only starting a family years down the line. I don't have creative writing friends but this is what is happening with my friends who went into film.

Of course you could argue this is due to the person and their goals, not the major. Maybe. I think people are happiest when they can directly apply the things they learned in college to jobs, and hit the ground running with some pre-built competence in their field. Making the pivot even to something like teaching can be a humiliating decision men especially aren't prepared to make right away.

In the era of contraception, getting laid is at best correlated with reproductive success; I suspect engineers have a higher TFR than roadies and bartenders, although probably not by as much as one would think.

With the exception of the very poor and very rich (which even most highly intelligent and conscientious people will never be), income and tfr aren't really correlated much among secular Westerners.

Sure, income isn't, but stability of income probably is. Male teachers make unimpressive salaries but probably have a good TFR compared to similarly paid servers(and high end servers routinely make teacher money in the US because tips, it's just not very steady). Every butcher I've ever met has had a wife and usually kids if over 30, despite unimpressive salaries, because it's a very stably-paid position. Roadies, bartenders, and other such drifters might have a far-above-average number of partners because they move from social circle to social circle regularly. But I'm skeptical that any of these partners have a kid with them.

I think we’ve by and large started yaslighting because of mistaken notions like being nonjudgmental and being supportive. In short, being polite, thus defaulting to whatever media and friends put out in the culture. Telling a kid that his art sucks hurts him and makes you feel like a mean person. Telling him how few people make it in professional art feels mean. And especially in the USA, being nice and polite no matter what harm may come from it is the norm, no matter what the consequences are. I don’t see this as true kindness because it’s often a lie that will eventually come to hurt that person as they make very expensive mistakes or otherwise give up on things they might want. Truth is freeing, and knows that the hobby isn’t going to feed them on the outset is going to allow them to make better choices.

Regarding the hobby-as-career thing, the culture is pushing it in large measure because the older contract isn’t true anymore. Any old job doesn’t give you even a working class life, raises are pitiful, and the cost of living is climbing. One way to keep people from rebelling is to subtly change the contract in the mind of the public. Don’t think about your job in terms of money, think about your job as a calling something that you were born to do. Then you won’t ask for the money or at least not as much.

Plenty of female-oriented degrees such as psychology, behavioral science, speech pathology, etc. require a Masters in order to really start working in the field. Seemingly, most of the people who study those majors just aren't aware of this.

I'm unsure whether these women just haven't googled the most basic facts of the career they'll spend their next 4-6 years pursuing, or whether they're semi-deliberately deluding themselves.

Do you have any statistics here? It looks like 82% of men and 70% of women are employed full time after college, and 3% of both are unemployed, so it's weird how gendered you're choosing to frame this. In my personal experience, suppressing/repressing your future after college is quite common and pretty ungendered.

That 12% gap seems pretty large to me (presumably it's mostly driven by motherhood). But OP was talking about working in a particular field, not employment more generally. We should expect college graduates (who are smarter than average) to mostly be gainfully employed. That's different from studying Psychology and actually getting a job as a therapist or whatever.

I agree it'd be nice to have a "job in your field" statistic. It'd be nice if OP would provide one before baselessly claiming that one gender is delusional.

"Job in your field" is the wrong metric - there are a lot of jobs which require "any degree" which are clearly graduate-class jobs with the social standing that implies but which are not "in your field" for most of the people doing them. The relevant test is "Job which requires a degree".

The social contract was that university guaranteed a white-collar job and middle-class status, not that it guaranteed that you could follow your dream. Middle managers at Proctor & Gamble (back in the days when that was the typical non-specialist graduate career path) were not chasing a dream, other than the two-car suburban lifestyle.

It's not that women are delusional. My point is that there's a social reality we all claim to believe in, and an actual reality, and men and women who mistake one for the other get hurt. The social reality is that college is purely about education and pursuing your dreams. Women who buy into this fail to get married quickly enough, and men who buy into it pick suboptimal careers.

I'm unsure whether these women just haven't googled the most basic facts of the career they'll spend their next 4-6 years pursuing, or whether they're semi-deliberately deluding themselves. My guess is the latter.

Being evenhanded with "both genders that fall into this trap are negatively impacted" is fine. When you claim that women are the ones who predominantly actually fall into the trap, you are making an inflammatory claim made without evidence.

You didn't understand my post at all.

The cited text describes women who didn't fall for the trap.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides some "jobs in field of degree" statistics here. For example, among workers with psychology degrees, the top occupation groups are "management" (15 %), "community and social service" (13 %), "educational instruction and library" (13 %), "healthcare practitioners and technicians" (11 %), and "office and administrative support" (9 %).

Well I can't speak for psychology majors, but as someone who was dumb enough to major in history there are virtually zero jobs in history outside of actually teaching history (either in grade school or university). I majored in history but went on to become a software dev. My dad majored in history but spent his whole career doing insurance claims adjustment. My grandpa majored in history and spent his whole career as an electrician. My older brother was dumb enough to get a whole ass PhD in history, and somehow managed to land one of the tiny, tiny number of actual history jobs that aren't teaching jobs.

I've always thought of this as a class issue. The educated class imparts the knowledge of which degrees are ok to their kids while the working class gets taken for a ride by the education industrial complex, ending up with useless or unfinished degrees, a bunch of debt, a sense of failure and missed earnings.

I've always thought most psychology degrees(and communications etc) are backup plans for when more rigorous degrees don't work out, not a first choice.

Recalling college: many young women's first and only choice is a psychology degree.

It isn’t merely which degrees but which schools, how to get into schools, etc etc.

Uh, the USA doesn’t have a job market which strongly discriminates on the basis of where your degree came from- everything that isn’t an Ivy or a state flagship is basically interchangeable until you get to the very bottom.

  1. There are schools that don’t meet either of those definitions that matter (eg Chicago, Georgetown, Duke, Vandy, Northwestern).

  2. Good schools also matter to getting into professional school.

I'm not even sure what I would be looking for. I've known quite a few women who claim to have been taken by surprise by Master's degree requirements for their desired jobs, and no men. These women generally finish with a Bachelor's and enter the workforce doing something only somewhat related to their major.

I looked for surveys asking about how well people understood the educational requirements for their chosen careers and didn't find any.

Regarding not having a plan for a career, I have to say this was always the case for me. I am finished school because it seemed the default thing to do, then studied physics because I thought it was interesting (and to keep my options open with regard to kinds of jobs), then went for a PhD. Me being in Europe, living a modest life-style and being supported by my parents meant that I came out without debt at least. I am not sure if I would have been more careful about my career choices if I felt that I was less employable.

--

Another thing which you touch is that it takes money to raise kids, especially if one wants more than one kid, at least by contemporary Western expectations (i.e. one room per teenager). Typically, there are places which have affordable rents and places which have jobs. In previous centuries, a husband in his twenties could start working and earn enough to feed his family and eventually even buy a house. Today, plenty of people feel they need two post-grad incomes to even consider kids, and few have delusions of being able to afford to own a house from the money they will ever make.

Regarding not having a plan for a career, I have to say this was always the case for me.

I truly don't understand this--what you study has such a large impact on the rest of your life. It's probably the single biggest choice you'll make! If there is anywhere you should exercise judgement it is there.

In previous centuries, a husband in his twenties could start working and earn enough to feed his family and eventually even buy a house. Today, plenty of people feel they need two post-grad incomes to even consider kids, and few have delusions of being able to afford to own a house from the money they will ever make.

I can't comment on Europe, but in America most people have similar beliefs which, to my eyes, are obviously wrong. I have friends constantly complaining about how poor they are and how they can't make rent, but also literally never cook, choosing instead to eat out for every single meal. They spend more than their rent weekly on food, but prefer complaining to budgeting. It seems to me that most who complain about such things have really not put much effort into finding solutions.

Personally, I did have parents who would would probably have talked me out of philosophy or medieval German. But with STEM, the assumption is that you find a job other than taxi driver. Physics is kind of good because it keeps your options open between software development, labwork and a zillion other occupations. If anything, I might have spent more time thinking about the if, why, what field and what school regarding a PhD. I am still okay with how it is likely to work out, though.

Regarding housing, I know of few tenants who spent more food/eating out than on rent. Typically, the rent is more than half of your paycheck. Again, in Germany, most of jobs (in, say, IT) and most of the infrastructure are in the big cities, where housing is crazy expensive. For people living in the big metropolitan areas the decision 'let us have three kids' would necessitate finding another job somewhere else where rents are cheaper, dropping out of their social circle and all that.

How does that work if they can't make rent? Are they getting kicked out? Are they fat?

It means they're consistently getting financial help from their parents. And somehow they're not fat.

Inflation adjusted housing costs in Stockholm have risen +500% in the last 30 years, and its not like it was some thirdie shithole before.

I'm skeptical that it's even possible to measure this. Many things, including housing, have gotten more expensive, but also improved substantially in quality, a factor not really reflected in the inflation-adjusted numbers.

Stockholm has I'm sure grown and become more urbanized as well, meaning that apartments which would previously have been in residential areas are now basically in the city center. So you can probably get by (and access comparable jobs to what was available 30 years ago) living much further from the center of the city than you could before.

Nowadays rural and remote jobs are better too, so in one sense it's easier to live entirely outside the city than ever.

You might think that but you would be wrong.

What has happened is very limited construction, large population growth and a massive credit expansion, leading to a price spiral. Cost increases in housing almost all exclusively comes from increases in land prices. Building is relatively cheap.

The vast majority are living in housing that was built before the 35 year price rally, not a single subway station has been added during that entire period.

Some people, like my family, have won big and are now (dollar)multimillionaires, due to no effort of our own. Others, like people from out of town or their children are just fucked.

The "yaslighting" thing is cute.

It seems like a case where something can be good enough advice at an individual level, while also not being very useful systemically, or in a way that's relevant for fertility rates. To the extent that a trend is effecting America, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, etc, it's unlikely to be primarily a matter of personal or subcultural choice.

Sometimes the people in the middle are hardest hurt--those who haven't bought into the modern secular ideology or the trad religious one. Women who don't go all-in on their careers, but also don't actively seek out husbands in college, and so end up in dead-end jobs with whatever mediocre husband they end up with.

Maybe they are themselves mediocre? Not everyone, nor every job can be above average. Thinking of that as a harm is a large part of the problem. A civilization where people won't have kids because their house and job and man are average is not in a good place.

I think one angle missing here is why women want the ability to have their own careers, income streams, etc. This post seems to reduce it to a kind of cultural brainwashing which is far too simplistic. Women want the ability to have their own careers and income streams for the same reason men do: they want to have some control over their lives. They want to be able to mitigate the downside risk that comes with being completely financially dependent on someone else. Imagine you're a woman. You give up your career, education, etc to become a homemaker for a man. Half a decade in (perhaps with two or three children) he becomes an abusive alcoholic. What kind of options do you have for protecting yourself and your children? For exiting the relationship? I know, as a man, I would be pretty uncomfortable being completely dependent on someone else due to the potential for abuse. it seems totally rational to me that women feel similarly. I suspect many women have heard stories from family members or friends about such relationships and so the concern seems especially salient to them. How prestigious does motherhood have to be for women, as individuals, not to care about that downside risk?

I think that you are correct but it is also a broader cultural change that is path dependent. The institution of marriage is unrecognizable to what it was in the past, shaming no longer works and family support is not there. Also in the past the situation was symmetric - being put together man who had quarrelsome wife who constantly created drama and conflict with neighbor was terrible for a man with no way out either. Even if he made all the money it is not as if he could just have a parallel life not supporting his family without massive reputational damage to the extent of destruction. Plus the wife also had family and brothers or uncles and so forth - deadbeat man could end up in a very sorry state if he overstepped his bounds and did not fulfil his family duties.

A similar phenomenon came to be after the advent of the pill. If a young men impregnated a young women, everybody knew that he was responsible to marry her shotgun wedding style. After invention of the pill and access to abortion, suddenly it was all on woman. Are you pregnant? Then it is your fault for not taking pill properly, but you can go and have abortion. You still want a baby? Okay, feel free to be a single mom while the man just leaves and does what he wants.

So yes, maybe women being "independent" and doing some clerical work for government with no husband and no kid is the next best thing in current reality where all the norms are obliterated. But it does not mean it is actually good for them or the society.

I don’t think women entered the workforce en masse as a form of insurance against spousal abuse. I think it was to access a higher standard of living by having two incomes, and that husbands were active participants in encouraging this process.

When raggedyanthem was still active on the forum she liked to make the point that normally when the ‘become a stay at home mom’ question comes up, it’s usually the husband who’s opposed. This speaks to the main reasoning for the lack of stay at home moms being mostly economic factors, which men are typically more sensitive to, and not risk-based factors that women tend to be sensitive to. There’s probably external economic factors involved as well; taking the standard of living cut is simply easier when smaller houses and crappier cars exist as a thing that middle class people have access to, and the story of the past few decades in America has been steadily rendering those things more and more the domain of the poor.

Yes, this fits my observations better as well.

A lot of women think most men are abusive and that they'll be nearly as fertile in their 40's as they are in their 20's. Our culture is extremely uncomfortable telling women that they need to get started with having kids relatively early, to the point that many women don't get that message at all and are shocked when they learn how female fertility actually works.

I would also be very uncomfortable trusting my finances to someone else. There's not just physical abuse to worry about--you also need to hope that they won't quit their careers to pursue a pipe dream, run away with a woman they meet on a business trip, or just get fired and fall into eternal unemployment due to depression. Getting education, and being capable of providing for yourself, is one way to deal with this possibility. Finding a good husband in the first place, one less likely to do any of these things, is another.

Ideally all women do both--getting sufficient education and selecting good husbands. As a culture, though, we refuse to acknowledge that at some point these strategies trade off against each other. Pursue a challenging and time-intensive degree and the best husbands will probably have already married other women. You may not have the time and resources to find a good spouse in time while dealing with educational demands.

I'm not saying women shouldn't get educations. Speaking as someone with no more than a high school diploma, I think a Bachelor's is probably the sweet spot for most women, but individual circumstances vary. I just think it's a shame so many people, men and women, operate off of faulty information and narratives when choosing how much education to get.

Ideally all women do both--getting sufficient education and selecting good husbands.

...? To the extent that there's any selection going on, it can't be done by all women? Do you just mean the women you personally know and like or something?

If everyone's following my advice now, then I'll tell all women to get married immediately and all men to be good husbands. Problem solved.

Really, though, selection is actually a thing that all women can do. If nobody marries deadbeat men, then deadbeats and the corresponding bottom X% of the female population just never marry. This probably leads to some good effects--the marginal deadbeats realize they need to shape up to have a chance with a woman and do so.

It's good general advice to ask people to be selective about choosing spouses because it encourages everyone to shape up.

And yeah, some husbands will still be deadbeats, but I did say women should do both--be selective and get good educations.

Yeah. 'Pass' is a valid selection.

I feel very confused by the way this is often talked about.

Women need jobs for the same reason men need jobs. Hardly anyone marries a well-off man at 18. It's not really an available choice for that many women, even in very conservative communities where it's theoretically ideal. Someone might say that they can go be a waitress or barista or something at 18, and sure, that's not that bad. But then unless both partners have really bought into the homeschooling lifestyle, most couples aren't all that happy about a woman who's just at home by herself or spending her husband's money with her friends 8 hrs a day. That was the issue in the 50s -- taking nicer and nicer jello casseroles and sewing unusually pretty aprons is not any more fulfilling than even quite a dull job, and husbands are not impressed by their wives chilling with their friends all day while they're at work. And then their kids grow up enough to take care of themselves, so what are they going to do? Running a non-profit for fun is for the rich, and costs money. and it's not great to be a waitress at 50. Maybe some women can take 10 years off to raise young kids, but there's another 30 years or so there where most of them will have to work, or face resentment and very tight finances. And for what? Lots of leisure is only enjoyable if you have money or similarly situated friends and neighbors.

But then unless both partners have really bought into the homeschooling lifestyle, most couples aren't all that happy about a woman who's just at home by herself or spending her husband's money with her friends 8 hrs a day.

I read this, and think of my parents, who don't really match the picture you've drawn here. Mom was pretty much fresh out of high school when she married Dad — who was about as far from "well-off" as you'd expect a functionally-illiterate high-school-dropout handyman to be. Mom didn't homeschool me and my younger brothers, and yet she still found ways to fill her day — and, in fact, be frustrated by time pressures getting things done — that weren't "spending her husband's money with her friends 8 hrs a day" (being as she had little in the way of money or friends), and only went out into workforce once my youngest brother was off to college. Part of this, I suppose, comes down to a standard element of living on the poorer end of the socio-economic scale (to which I can also attest personally) — that is, doing yourself what others pay to have done, those with more money substituting said money for time. I remember Mom, particularly when we were younger, doing a fair bit of sewing. Lots of cooking. Smoking or canning salmon. Thursdays and Fridays spent packing for weekend trips out of town — hunting, fishing, or just spending weekends at the cabin (and Mondays spent putting everything back). Gardening, once we were no longer in apartments. Shopping trips to Costco. Laundry (lots and lots of laundry). And, of course, plenty of cleaning up after three messy boys and a man with ADD and no ability to organize his collection of work tools and spare parts.

Much of this sort of thing — the "idle 50's housewife" and such — seems to be dependent on class, and not so much a thing down at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Growing up, my family was a good bit more suburban and less rural. Gardening for fun more than sustenance. Sewing to mend the odd item rather than maintain everything. Dad had a somewhat more technical job, and if we were ever desperate for money, they were able to hide it.

With that in mind, like you, I can't think of my mother as idle. Cooking for a family of six is the obvious time-sink. Cleaning, too, even once we were old enough to be useful. She managed most of the groceries, but also all of the clothes, furniture, Christmas presents, road trips, and other intermittent expenses. Not to mention the actual bills. Somehow she also juggled four kids' worth of extracurriculars and social groups while (apparently) managing to bond with her peers.

It's not like Dad was checked out. He loved us and took on his fair share. But the minutiae of raising kids was always Mom's full-time job.

Go back a generation, and both my parents had extremely rural upbringings. I can't imagine their day was any less full.

That makes sense, closer to a preindustrial household economy, where cooking, cleaning, and textiles/crafting were much more important and harder to replace. I think it was CanIHaveaSong who used to write sometimes about (her?) mother hand washing everything and growing up without running water.

On the other hand, the original context was about the kind of woman who might get a degree in psychology but not take her eventual career path too seriously, since ultimately she's more interested in meeting a future husband at college, which to some degree higher status than I am. My grandmother was of the Mrs Degree class, and went to university to get a BA in stage or something before settling down to raise her four children in the 50s and 60s, and even when she lost her husband and became the head of household, I'm not entirely sure what she did, actually. Which isn't judgment on her as a person, and seems to have been appropriate to her class.

So I suppose I was thinking of a socioeconomic situation somewhere between my grandmother's and your mother's, the kind of lower middle class woman who's certified as a teacher or nurse or something. I personally get summers off and spend the time going on road trips with my family, reading Motte posts, and painting in the garden, and would absolutely be a poor candidate for an actually useful stay at home mom. This is related to why old female novels make such a huge deal of women, especially, dropping classes -- they won't necessarily know what to do or have any useful instincts for it, having been trained mostly to read books and paint (or whatever) for their entire childhood.

most couples aren't all that happy about a woman who's just at home by herself or spending her husband's money with her friends 8 hrs a day. That was the issue in the 50s -- taking nicer and nicer jello casseroles and sewing unusually pretty aprons is not any more fulfilling than even quite a dull job, and husbands are not impressed by their wives chilling with their friends all day while they're at work. And then their kids grow up enough to take care of themselves, so what are they going to do?

That's true, but you could also say the same about working a job. Most jobs, even well-paying ones, just aren't that interesting as far as self-actualization and giving meaning to your life. It's an existential struggle that we all face, in this modern age of atheism and material abundance. If she's chilling with her friends, at least that might provide some real community and social circle, compared to the career woman late at night, too tired to do anything except order takeout and watch TV.

This is one reason why teaching is a popular career for women who want to take time off to raise kids. It is easier to get back into teaching compared to other careers as there isn’t as much technical changes.

This is a post in itself but a substantial reason why so many work outside the home today, and why women working outside the home is correlated with wealth and technological development, is because having access to labor saving devices heavily shifts the economic calculus in favor of women working outside the home. It requires far fewer hours today to achieve what would have been a full time job providing goods for a household historically. One of the few areas where this is not true is child rearing and i s part of why daycare is so expensive and why people sometimes quit work to care for children. Otherwise we have largely automated the tasks of homemaking, freeing people's labor up for other productive uses. Related to this is the idea of a "gold digger." A woman interested in a man for his wealth but who does not proportionally contribute. It's much harder to proportionally contribute without a job when technology can automate most of the things you're supposed to be contributing!

Sure.

But then you probably can't just advise a young woman to get a frivolous degree and hope to be a housewife, because even if it works out to get married, start a family, and be a stay at home mom from 22 - 35 or something (big if), she'll still either need to develop a very substantial hobby that might as well be a job, but without burning through all their disposable income, or have a plan to get a job that's sustainable as a middle aged and older mom, both of which take some amount of forethought.

One of the few areas where this is not true is child rearing and i s part of why daycare is so expensive and why people sometimes quit work to care for children.

There is no way that daycare costs aren't artificially inflated. If you're already taking care of a kid full-time, you can throw in a couple more, and barely see the difference (it's the whole reason it's even possible for daycare to work). The reason your SATHM neighbor can't offer daycare as a service is that she's not allowed to, not that it wouldn't be cost effective.

I think part of it is government regulation but another part is that we often have higher standards for entities we outsource these things to than we have for ourselves. Compare home cooking to eating out a restaurant. I generally want the restaurant food to be at least as good as what I could make or I wouldn't bother going. On top of that the restaurant has to comply with a bunch of food safety regulations I probably don't abide when cooking at home. This makes things more expensive!

On the parenting front, I suspect a lot of parents who would be fine giving their kid an iPad or some other device for entertainment would be mad at a daycare they pay for doing the same.

I was formerly the board chair of a local non-profit daycare. Even with free facilities, only a couple of full-time staff, a bunch of part-time high school and college students making barely above minimum wage (this was pre-Covid), and zero excess funds most years, we still were barely cheaper than many of the other local daycares. At least where I live, childcare is a highly competitive field. Any conspiracy to artificially inflate costs would need to include every daycare run by a non-profit, university, church, stay-at-home mom, large employer, etc., including every new entrant into the business, of which there are many. A sinister cabal is just not possible.

A little-discussed phenomenon is that since 2011 or so, low-wage pay has skyrocketed in major urban areas. People who were making $8 an hour in 2008 make $30 an hour today. Meanwhile, white collar workers who made $50 an hour (converted to hourly pay) in 2008 may make $75 an hour today, a much smaller increase.

The cost of childcare, fast food, hotel rooms etc for white collar professionals (ie. the upper middle class) has therefore increased much faster than their own incomes.

Oh, you’re absolutely right. I remember raising the minimum wage for the part-timers to $8/hour ten or twelve years ago. The last I heard, the new starting wage at the same daycare was something like $15–$17/hour, and this isn’t even in an urban area, let alone a major one. I don’t know of any white collar jobs that saw a 100% increase in salary over the same time period.

The downside is half the kids I know making $19/hr are paying $1.5k/mo in rent, $5.60/gal in gas, and there are hardly any used cars for under 10k.

Friends with a guy who drives 25 miles each way to do 2.5hr shifts at $18/hr. $37 after tax, minus $14 for gas. And he needs to save some of that $23 to buy a new car when his '89 with the doors held closed by baling twine finally dies.

I don't know if the math has really sunk in for him.

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"Good news everyone! Income inequality has really decreased in the past few years. Bad news: everything is now really expensive relative to your inflation-adjusted wage."

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If you're already taking care of a kid full-time, you can throw in a couple more, and barely see the difference

This doesn't appear to be true. It's extremely complicated to get a stay at home mom to watch another mom's kids even for a couple of hours of babysitting. I have heard of it happening now and again, or in an emergency, but it is absolutely not a regular thing, and I could definitely not pay my stay at home mom friends to watch my kids reliably, all day, at any price that I would be able to pay. I grew up around stay at home moms, it was definitely not illegal to watch each other's kids, and it also very rarely happened at a greater scale than very light occasional babysitting.

I have heard of it happening now and again, or in an emergency, but it is absolutely not a regular thing

Weird, was pretty common when I was a kid.

it was definitely not illegal to watch each other's kids

Yeah, it's also not illegal to invite someone over to dinner, that doesn't mean you can sell your food.

that doesn't mean you can sell your food.

Yes I can. Nobody bothers the tamale vendors, clearly selling stuff they made in their home kitchens from out of their personal cooler chests. The teachers in the schools are selling their home cooked food (mostly tamales) to each other through the official newsletter. Just if they make enough money at it, they'll be expected to pay taxes.

Similar informal (and illegal) daycare setups also exist.

Are you talking about legality, or are you talking about lack of enforcement? Because, although it was a while back, I distinctly remember stuff like a SWAT raid on a raw-milk co-op.

same reason men

Men frequently want careers / success to improve their likelihood of reproductive success. Career success can even offset other deficits, short stature, asymmetry, etc.

Does education / career improve women's odds of reproductive success?

Do women hold up their degrees in pornography?

I'm not sure I understand the question.

crushedoranges wants to imply that men are mostly picking women for their physical characteristics.

I think that while physical attraction governs who men might want to have sex with, there might be other considerations for long term relationships. At least some men would prefer a spouse who shares their interests, views et cetera, and having a similar degree of education might serve as a proxy for those.

Just as an abstract question, if you were a woman, how would you go about becoming the mistress of Arnold Schwarzenegger? He is undoubtedly at the top in the political, physical, and social sphere of America. How would you do it?

Well, certainly not by going to college!

He had a child by his cleaning maid, a child that seems to have recieved the jackpot in terms of genetics, becoming a Hispanic clone of his father. We're not talking about relationships here: we're talking about reproductive success.

If you're a woman, and you want to have ubermensch children, you don't even need to be attractive. You just need to be available to elite men, be discreet, and be feminine and pliant. That's all it takes. It's not complicated. Women have been doing it for millenia. You don't need a piece of paper to get into Chad's pants. You just need girl game.

Career? Working is for the working class!

Certainly. It's also likely a proxy for 'class'.

To @crushedoranges question then, I don't believe harlots would lead with their pornography credentials unless their targets are similarly credentialed. Any sex industry involvement is a disqualifyer for many men seeking a wife.

I think attraction to physical characteristics plays a role it can be more subtle than simply having two breasts are like two fawns, twins of the gazelle grazing among the lilies...

There had been 'research' that purported to show men ranked women as more attractive when the women's faces looked more like the men. In my own experience n=1 this is true. Though I did not notice / realize until several other people, friends, family drew my attention to the similarities. Then I saw it too.

On the individual level, absolutely.

Do you have any data? All the graphs and studies I've seen seem to show tfr declining with increased education / work outside the home.

'years of education' .. is also one of the things most strongly associated with infertility, no ?

Sure, but things correlate with multiple things at once.

Things can't correlate with the same thing both positively and negatively.

When the causal graph has more than two nodes, something can have a negative correlation (when measured with no controls) despite having a positive causative effect (which would show a positive correlation in an RCT), or vice versa. People who get chemotherapy are way more likely to die of cancer than people who don't.

I can't imagine the education/fertility relationship being an example of that, though. Nerds go to college more and have fewer kids, but not as many fewer as they'd have had without going to college? Sounds like a stretch.

Presumably we could see a bimodal distribution of fertility, though I don't believe we do. Most of graphs I've seen look more like a dose response curve.

Starting a company is both correlated with bankruptcy and business success.

Bankruptcy and business success aren't mutually exclusive the way high and low TFR are.

I think what you mean is that high education is correlated with both low TFR and with being one of the few women with very high TFR, but this doesn't seem to be true. Those extreme-TFR women generally get there by marrying rich, not via personal education. Maybe they met their rich husbands at college but probably not in PHD programs.

100% of businesses that go bankrupt were started

100% of successful businesses were also started

I'm not sure this a a very descriptive or useful corralation.

This is all well and good. I find myself continually amazed at how good normies are at unconsciously separating reality from social reality and smoothly living by them both without acknowledging the contradictions.

It really is necessary, when we live in a society that puts so many contradictory constraints on us. I think that's why "autistic" and "creepy" have taken off so hard as insults lately- it labels a certain person who can't just "let it be," but consciously questions those unwritten social rules, which makes everyone else uncomfortable because it highlights the contradictions.

And things change in response. Like, maybe it was fine in the past to get an ".Mrs degree," as long as it wasn't made too explicit. But once you go around explicitly talking about it and make everyone aware of what's happening, they have to change their behavior to regain some plausible deniability.

yaslighting

I am so so using that term from now on...

But shouldn't it be "yasslighting"? "Yass queen" has more than 1 "s".

...That does seem better.

It is seen as empowering and feminist to socially pressure women into denying one of the most natural human impulses, that of having and raising children, so that they can get more educated and make more money.

This is often reinforced by the meme that as a woman you should not be dependent on a man. In my experience this does a disservice to those who believe it. My wife and I are mutually dependent on each-other, in our complimentary domains. She's been a full-time homemaker the past 8 years. One of her friends from uni, who is now literally a witch, was shocked to hear that she is dependent on me financially.

I see it as the value she provides to our home and our four children far exceeds the value of her working for an employer. We'd be unable to pay a person of equivalent caliber to perform the work she does for our family.

To claim that modern society has devalued motherhood and femininity, or made them low status, is completely backwards. Motherhood and femininity in general have been devalued for as long as patriarchy has existed, so pretty much the whole of human history. I can't think of any human cultures, let alone any of the big-name European and near-eastern ones that the modern west is descended from, which have not considered the female sphere and female pursuits to be intrinsically lesser than that of men.* The "oh, women aren't inferior to men, they just have different strengths/they're made for different roles" line you hear from conservatives nowadays (what Christians call 'complementarianism') is itself an anti-modernist rearguard action. For the great majority of the history of western civilization, philosophers, theologians, and intellectuals, whether Pagan, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or atheist, have been happy to state that actually, women are just strictly inferior to men. It's the reason you occasionally get figures like Elizabeth I or Catherine the Great who are praised for being essentially men in women's bodies, but you never get men praised for being essentially women in men's bodies.

What happened in more resent centuries isn't that motherhood and womanhood were devalued. Motherhood and womanhood were devalued way back in the primordial past, and only recently have women been allowed to escape such devalued roles at scale.

You can't make motherhood 'prestigious' because motherhood has never been prestigious. Closest thing would just be banning women from doing actually prestigious things.

If you believe in patriarchy then motherhood was the only way to actually have any prestige. If you mothered successful sons, then you earned status of clan matriarch basically for free due to them. There is a reason why mother-in-law is such a hated archetype especially by women - she achieved the status via motherhood and the bride is there to serve her. There is nothing more dangerous than clan matriarch - some man inappropriately touched some other female as attested by this highly respected matriarch of family? The men of the clan will make sure to defend the honor of the family while the matriarch is sipping her tea on the porch.

Modern women are the ones absolutely fucked. If shit hits the fan, all they can do is call the cops who will ignore them or rant on social media into the void as they are getting robbed by predators. There is nothing more sad, pathetic and useless than childless and bitter old woman.

The Catholic faith reveres a human woman as the "Queen of Heaven" above all other human born men. Extending Marian reverence further, it is believed that her willingness (choice) to bear that child led directly to thecomplete salvation of mankind. That is the model for femininity / motherhood. That's a pretty excellent model.

Sure, you can point to millions of examples of flawed humans perhaps not living up to this. But the ideological / theological apparatus is there. Handwaving it away with your sweeping comment...

For the great majority of the history of western civilization, philosophers, theologians, and intellectuals, whether Pagan, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or atheist, have been happy to state that actually, women are just strictly inferior to men.

...Is to obviously discard any information that could be contrary to your assertion.

You can't make motherhood 'prestigious' because motherhood has never been prestigious.

It's the only way the species can continue. I ... I can't think of anything more prestigious.

By that logic the serfs were the most prestigious caste of medieval society, because food, unlike swords and castles, is actually necessary for society.

That was not so and isn't so still. Neither was motherhood.

...Is to obviously discard any information that could be contrary to your assertion.

What information? Do you disagree with the statement that the general opinion of pre-modern thinkers was that women were inferior to men? Can you find any such figures who disagreed? Maybe you can, I'm sure there were a handful, but they're going to be vastly outnumbered by those who held the contrary position. Mary is a goddess*. She is inimitable. The fact that according to Christian mythology she was once a mortal woman is irrelevant to the role she actually occupies in existing religious practice. She should be compared to her fellow divinities, not mortal men, and she is certainly inferior to God the Father and to her own son. Having warrior and scholar goddesses didn't stop the Greeks from pacing such onerous restrictions on their women that it surprised their own contemporaries. The divine and human spheres are different, and the reverence of female divinities says little more about the role of women in actual existing human society than the frequency of incest in stories of the gods says something about the acceptability of incest between actual flesh and blood human beings.

It's the only way the species can continue. I ... I can't think of anything more prestigious.

Necessary doesn't equal prestigious. Actually it often indicates the opposite, since the mundane and commonplace is rarely exalted.

*Yes I know it's not latria it's dulia etc. etc.

You can't make motherhood 'prestigious' because motherhood has never been prestigious. Closest thing would just be banning women from doing actually prestigious things.

This is the second comment in this thread talking about eschewing motherhood being the more "prestigious" option, hence the more favored.

Healthy women have deep-seated, base, mammalian urges to reproduce and nourish healthy offspring. It is hardwired in them to feel pleasure through these behaviors. The bond a mother has with her children and how they give great meaning to her life is a story in every culture in existence.

Women are forsaking these genetic behaviors for what reason? For whose benefit? Have we stacked the value of the maternal bond against an economic forecast and decided it doesn't measure up?

Healthy women have deep-seated, base, mammalian urges to reproduce and nourish healthy offspring. It is hardwired in them to feel pleasure through these behaviors. The bond a mother has with her children and how they give great meaning to her life is a story in every culture in existence.

A significant minority of women likely do not have this instinct or have it in a much weakened form. Through human and pre-human history women really haven't had that much of a choice on whether they bear children or not, so selection for enjoying motherhood is probably not as strong as you might think.

Women are forsaking these genetic behaviors for what reason? For whose benefit?

Cuz they don't feel like it, I guess? Really nobody is forcing women not to have kids. It's not a matter of it being too expensive or anything. You can be flat broke in a western country and your kids will have an infinitely more comfortable existence than those of the peasant woman in 1312 who popped out twelve children. If women really want to have kids, they can, it's not hard.

A significant minority of women likely do not have this instinct or have it in a much weakened form. Through human and pre-human history women really haven't had that much of a choice on whether they bear children or not, so selection for enjoying motherhood is probably not as strong as you might think.

Children and especially babies require an immense amount of attention and in the premodern environment child mortality was extremely high. There was obviously a strong selection effect for women who enjoyed childcare because their children died less often from neglect.

Children and especially babies require an immense amount of attention

Children really require much less attention than WEIRDos think they do. Historically you could mostly ignore your babies between feedings. And once they becomes ambulatory you can just let them do whatever pretty much except when they have to do work around the house or in the fields. They'll probably be fine, horrifying as most moderns find the prospect. High child mortality was due to illness which pre-modern mothering was powerless to prevent, no matter how attentive or caring, not due to kids wandering off and getting eaten by bears.

This is still the case in a lot of undeveloped countries, or at least it was a few decades ago. I've talked to people who grew up in Latin America in the 70s but essentially lived pre-modern peasant existences and described parenting as being very hands-off.

Like what does a modern "neglectful" mother do? She probably lets her kid eat whatever, doesn't take him to the doctor, doesn't buy him new clothes, lets him go wherever he wants with whoever he wants whenever he wants. None of these were factors in the pre-modern world (everybody was eating the same thing, nobody was going to the doctor for yearly checkups, everybody wore the same clothes all the time) except for the last one which would only result in death at the margins.

To claim that modern society has devalued motherhood and femininity, or made them low status, is completely backwards. Motherhood and femininity in general have been devalued for as long as patriarchy has existed, so pretty much the whole of human history.

I see comments like this a lot, and it goes with the general sentiment that men don't respect women and only think of them as sex objects. The truth is that men do value women greatly for certain things that are unique to their womanhood and less for other things that are not unique to women. It's contemporary women who have devalued the qualities they have which men do value.

It's the reason you occasionally get figures like Elizabeth I or Catherine the Great who are praised for being essentially men in women's bodies, but you never get men praised for being essentially women in men's bodies.

I know this is controversial to say these days, but the bodies of men who act like women cannot do the things the real women can do with their bodies and, generally, women are highly valuable because of what their bodies are built to do: nurture life. If I owned a goat who just wanted sit in my chicken coop all day, he wouldn't be very valuable to me because he can't lay eggs.

I'm not saying that all people should be strictly limited to traditional gender roles -- there are outliers that just can't perform those roles. However, society is currently obsessed with making outliers the new normal, which is wreaking havoc on both the healthy operation of human interactions and the self-worth of those who have been yaslit into devaluing their natural gifts.

Really? Sure, there's lots of male respect for the cute twenty/thirtysomething new mom with a baby or two on her hip. Let's even be charitable and assume this does show genuine value for the Life-Nurturing Feminine, not just that hot moms are hot. But whatever that value is, it localizes pretty strictly around the 5-10 years of baby-toddler momhood. In mass culture, middle-aged moms of tweens and teens are bad cops and out-of-touch laughingstocks, older moms of grown-up kids are the ones who get vented about in therapy, accused of narcissism/busybodyness and subjected to aggressive "boundary-setting" if they're even tolerated in the kids' lives at all. Is it a wise choice for a woman to opt into an identity with a mandatory retirement policy that's at most decade out? What's she supposed to envision doing for the rest of the time?

Is it a wise choice for a woman to opt into an identity with a mandatory retirement policy that's at most decade out? What's she supposed to envision doing for the rest of the time?

A person's value can change over time from one asset to another.

I know you want to read a lot into this, but it's reall very simple, and universal for both men and women:

If you want to be valued (beyond the default "all human life has value" value, which is a wash across the board), you need to provide value.

A young man, for example, is generally valuable for his strong back and plentiful energy; an old man is generally valuable for his learned wisdom, accrued wealth and maybe even skill at the management of young men. If an old man is stupid, poor and cannot lead the young, he is shirking his own value. It doesn't matter if other people want to imbue him with value or not, he provides nothing.

Women, likewise, can be valuable for a lot of things when they're younger, and less valuable for those things later, but valuable for other properties that align with their age and experience.

I am not proscribing that women only do certain things -- certainly there is variability with every person, and I'm libertarian in terms of what part the law should play in this -- but rather suggesting that women who complain that they aren't valued are probably not providing value out of their own choice. Just like men who don't feel valued by women. This type of value is not innate but something one must identify correctly and work towards providing. Old-fashioned gender roles were better at teaching young people how they can be of value to others than today's gender roles are.

So to go with OP's scenario, a woman in her 20s has the option of rendering value through: (a) having babies and raising them, or (b) focusing on her career and developing her ability to offer economic value, maybe while trying to fit in a baby or two for personal gratification along the way.

In option (a), she's maybe got 15-20 years of being valuable to others (since people value mothering mostly through the end of the cute phase); that value is mostly rendered privately, since community members don't much care who breeds or not; and the past value she's rendered is extremely perishable, expiring pretty immediately when her fertility ends and the kids leave elementary school.

In option (b), she can continue to produce value for others, and thus be regarded as valuable in turn, through age 60-65+; her value is rendered publicly and comes with the benefits of stronger community relationships and public respect; and even if something happens so that she gets fired at 55, her compensation thus far has been in investment-friendly cash plus professional connections, which will hold their value well in tough times.

I think this is why old-fashioned gender roles did very much emphasize women's economic productivity, focusing on diligent spinning, weaving, prudent financial management, etc. (Also, creation of children used to be another form of economic productivity/retirement savings, but is definitely less so now that they don't contribute to the household and feel no obligation to look after aged parents.) For better or worse, our grinding middle-management girlbosses are more truly aligned with old-fashioned notions of women's value than the modern sentimental tradwife who stays hot for hubby, bakes cute cupcakes and cuddles the babies all day.

Old-fashioned gender roles were better at teaching young people how they can be of value to others than today's gender roles are.

The gender roles were also very good at determining/controlling pitfalls, too; a society that is only capable of condemning stupidity/violence in men [who provide value by doing], or anger/entitlement in women [who provide value by being], is inherently divided against itself simply because that is the most common failure mode of each gender. It gets worse when those faults are portrayed as positive.

If you want to be valued (beyond the default "all human life has value" value, which is a wash across the board), you need to provide value.

Maybe, but along came mechanization and post-scarcity, and the West hasn't quite figured out how to deal with that yet; now, men need to act like women to succeed (sit down, shut up, regurgitate is how they'll waste their physical and mental peak times of their lives), and women need to act like men to succeed (you have to waste your physical peak proving you're fit to receive the welfare that is most public service jobs and by the time you've done that you're already starting to wilt- divorce doesn't pay well, after all).

And when "how well you can pass as the other gender" is the order of the day, it's not a surprise that men-acting-as-women aren't attractive to women, and women-acting-as-men aren't attractive to men. And while that's great for man-women and woman-men, maybe most people are better off steering clear.

(And really, it's threading the needle: making sure the bi-gender people aren't held back, but at the same time pointing out that cargo-culting their inherent success is a bad idea. If humanity was capable of understanding that nuance we'd probably be better off, but I don't think the average human is and it doesn't remain stable between generations either.)

Where do you get the idea that adults' mothers are looked down upon in such a way? All around the world, men will literally kill people for insults directed at their mothers. There is a reason "Son of a bitch" is such a common insult. To denigrate a man's mother is worse than insulting himself, his siblings, or his father.

I was responding to the earlier poster's comment:

The truth is that men do value women greatly for certain things that are unique to their womanhood and less for other things that are not unique to women.

made specifically in defense of the proposition that women should abandon professional careers to pursue instead early stay-at-home motherhood. So the question of whether the average dude would beat up some other guy for insulting his mother isn't really germane to the question.

Do these mother-loving men love motherhood enough to listen to older women's perspectives, defend their rights, respect their ideas, hire them in preference to hot young recent grads, offer them salaries commensurate with the years they spent in this ostensibly ultra-high-value experience? Do they go out of their way to live near their own moms and spend time with them?

Do they deeply admire a CEO's wife who raised his four kids, just as much as they do the CEO for whatever email/boardroom/golf wankery he did during that same timeframe? Would they go to hear her TEDX talk and buy her vanity book afterwards? Because men find motherhood so high-value and so darn important?

Nobody needs to propose anything because women already abandon their professional careers for motherhood. For many of these women, they would have been far happier pursuing motherhood earlier. Are there women who are happier pursuing careers than if they had pursued motherhood? Sure, but the exception should not drive societal policy and culture. You don't hear anyone push motherhood except conservatives, which most young women do not listen to. So your average young woman might hear from their parents/family about pursuing motherhood, and then nearly the rest of social media/entertainment/school/friends/society tell her to pursue a career instead.

Respect for motherhood does not mean men have to treat all mothers with respect, or treat any random mother to a higher degree of respect than they do for any other person. If the parents did a good job raising their children, it is likely there to be a good relationship between a man and his mother. Most men I know that have a good relationship with their parents do in fact respect their mother and take her input into consideration. I personally also regularly talk with my mother for advice. This does not mean if I meet any random mother, I would respect her opinions any more than that of any other person, unless we were talking about something where her experiences as a mother would be relevant to the conversation.

Why would and should anyone respect a CEO's wife to the same level of respect as the CEO? If the CEO was a woman and her husband raised their kids I would respect the CEO more than her husband because she's the one making the decisions for the company. The CEO is making business decisions that likely have a greater impact on my life than a mother does raising her children. A man can also aspire to be a CEO. So of course a CEO get more respect on the basis that it's something men can aspire towards and on the impact it could have on their day-to-day lives. Does this mean men don't respect motherhood? No, what you're doing here is a false equivalency. You're basically arguing that men don't value motherhood or don't value it enough because they wouldn't respect a CEO's wife who is a mother to the same level of degree as they would for a CEO. The thing is, I respect and admire my own mother a hell of a lot more than I do any CEO, and I'm sure many other men feel the same way towards their mother. A man can simultaneously find motherhood high-value and important and still admire a CEO more than they would that CEO's wife.

Plenty of rich and successful people attribute their success to their mother. You don't hear that type of respect and love as often for a father. If anything, in modern American culture motherhood is highly elevated while fatherhood is not. The most common trope of a father you see in movies, tv shows, video games, advertisements, books, academic articles, the news, etc. is a deadbeat dad, a missing father, a dead father, a stupid father, the list goes on. Of course, there are negative stereotypes about women mothers too, narcissistic parents and all that but despite that, your average person seems to still outwardly declare their love and respect for their mother far more often than they do for their fathers. Just because there are negative tropes about mothers does not mean motherhood is not respected, it just means there are bad mothers out there. If a child does not speak with their parents and has a bad relationship with them, to me that is indicative of poor parenting and not reflective of a societal dislike and hatred for mothers or fathers in general.

Ah, yes, 40's and 50's girlbosses are widely admired among the masses, the stereotypes of cats and alcoholism are signs of respect.

I think people Just Don't Like Middle Aged Women regardless of whether they're moms or not. Honestly I'm not sure middle aged men get the greatest shake either, although there's positive stereotypes slightly more often I suppose.

Oh, I agree that it's a curse of middle-aged womanhood in general. Underneath that, likely just the bitter animal truth that humans only seek the favor of other humans when they (a) have something to gain from them or (b) have something to fear from them. Men are more physically intimidating into midlife, thus retain the power to command respect and amity for longer.

However, given the choice to be a widely-reviled middle-aged woman with a fat bank account, a nice apartment, some social clout and active power over one or two resentful underlings... or a widely-reviled middle-aged woman with a menial job, no money or future prospects, and the wistful memory of long-ago baby cuddles with grown adults who are now far away living their own lives, calling maybe once or twice a year? It doesn't seem obviously rational to choose the latter.

Family connections bring actual literal benefits; it's probably better to be the lower earning partner in a couple than a higher earning single person. Like the whole thing about a housewife is that it's being a housewife meaning she's married; if a sufficient amount of relationship security is available then this is a rational decision, and given that divorce risk is not distributed equitably then many women- and I would estimate most who consider the stay at home mom route- should proceed under the assumption that they have sufficient relationship/family security to make the SAHM route a more rational decision.

And most adults are not that estranged from their parents, even in early young adulthood, nor do most marriages with a SAHM end in divorce. The median 'retired housewife' is happily married and posting instagram photos of her grandchildren, not alone and working at walmart to pay the bills.

In modern mass culture, the middle-age dads of tweens and teens are also portrayed as out of touch laughingstocks. At least the moms are portrayed as competent. As for older women, yes, there’s the stereotype of the overbearing mother (or mother-in-law), but there’s also the great respect shown to grandmothers. Just think about the messaging during Covid. Everyone was told to mask and get vaccinated in order to save grandma, but no one even thought to be concerned about grandpa.

Either way, I’m pretty sure dasfoo was talking about the traditional views under the bad old patriarchy, not modern views.

Grandpas typically don't live as long. That's a larger factor towards why grandmas represent the covid-endangered family member than increased respect towards grandmas, I think.

Well therapy culture sucks. See below.

What, as opposed to "she's a witch, burn her" and the associated other super-compassionate pre-therapy approaches to a society's superfluous old women? Can you cite a single historical or modern context where men as a group eagerly step up to show respect and deference for (non-related) moms in their 40s, 50s, 60s, on account of the erstwhile life-giving properties of their bodies? (And no, abstract Marian devotion doesn't count unless you can show it translating to heightened value for real flesh-and-blood older moms).

Even on this forum, would the folks lavishly praising young motherhood also endorse really serious social consequences for wealthy men who ditch their aging wives to pursue younger, hotter options once the kids have become teens? Consequences on the order of the philandering dude's losing his career or identity, since those are the effective results of family breakup for a wife who's made stay-at-home momhood her professional vocation? If not, then it's definitely safer to be Jeff Bezos than Mackenzie Bezos, and you can't blame young women for trying.

Even on this forum, would the folks lavishly praising young motherhood also endorse really serious social consequences for wealthy men who ditch their aging wives to pursue younger, hotter options once the kids have become teens?

Yes. Abandoning your wife is scummy behavior.

Alimony was the social invention. And Mackenzie Bezos got billions for literally marrying a dude.

Mackenzie's contributions to Amazon were a lot bigger than just "being Jeff's wife".

Jeff and Mackenzie started out in their early 20s in roughly the same position, collaborating on a business, both presumably thinking they had talent and some good ideas. So they make a great test case for the options facing young women who choose between (A) early marriage/kids and (B) pursuing their career.

Mackenzie chose A, stayed home with the children and after two decades got to be the unilaterally discarded middle-aged wife with no future, no vocation, no social or professional power, no marketable skills to build on, and zero credit or respect for the 25 years of work she put into the supposedly-so-valuable work of motherhood and family-building (just "literally marrying a dude," in your words). She gets to keep some of the accumulated assets of their joint family project-- much less than half-- and the male public is in broad agreement that she should be damn grateful to emerge with even that.

Jeff chose B, cultivated his career, and gets not just riches but power, public respect, a robust personal and professional network, and a vocation/identity that will stick with him well into his '70s, where his value will increase, not decrease, over time.

Explain to me again why you think young women should follow Mackenzie's path, not Jeff's?